Alma Berrow: After Party
A new series of hand-painted porcelain sculptures by Alma Berrow are on view in the exhibition, ‘For dust you are and to dust you shall return’, in the project space of Galeria Hilario Galguera in Mexico City.
Galeria Hilaria Galguera presents an exhibition of new ceramic work by London-based artist Alma Berrow titled ‘For dust you are and to dust you shall return’. The exhibition takes place in the gallery’s project space, El cuarto de máquinas, a former cantina for men-only called La Rambla, located in Mexico City, and a perfect setting for the dozens of hand painted porcelain sculptures that capture the detritus from a debaucherous party; From ashtrays brimming with cigarette butts, beer tops, a squeezed lime or a ripped piece of paper with a telephone number and a note that says call me, to hands holding a corkscrew, matches or pinching pills, every detail is considered and beautifully crafted.
The sculptures are placed on pedestals around space, as if the party itself had taken place in this old watering hole, capturing a moment in time in the long history of this establishment. The lighting is done so that the ceramic hands cast shadow puppets against the wall adding another layer of installation. As Berrow says, “The main concept of this show was to try and capture the dark and light in us all. The animalistic nature set against the child like need for play. Each hand although taking part in nefarious and debauched acts does so while creating a shadow puppet of an animal. I find shadows enchanting, stemming from Peter Pan to Plato’s cave. I have forever found an interest in the darkened creations that follow us in the day and become us at night”.
The title of the exhibition, ‘From dust you came and to dust you shall return,’ is a quote from Genesis 3:19 and also the title of a central work in the show in which a hand emerges from the centre of an ashtray holding a cigarette in a way that suggests a crucifix. “The quote is the damning words of God to Adam and Eve after they have eaten the Forbidden Fruit, and for me, this is a sort of Pandora’s Box moment of the releasing of sin and shame into the world, the moment that has led us to the present and the immortalized scene of the exhibition,” Berrow states.
Berrow, who studied art and textiles at university, started making small ceramics during the pandemic – always with this theme of post-party ephemera, perhaps a longing for former nights out, but also as a way to engage the free time. The genre of ‘fake-real’ objects from dollhouses to British decorative arts is something that has long fascinated the artist. In this exhibition, the transformation of pretty and pleasant trompe l’oeil ceramics with their glossy glazing and refined details into objects that are both humorous and disgusting, perfectly taps into a sense of instability and anxiousness that pervades not only our emotions after a wild night out but one could say of the state of the world in general right now.
‘From dust you came and to dust you shall return,’ is on view at El cuarto de máquinas through December 16, 2022.